Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and His LEGO Empire
Commonly known as the richest individual in Denmark, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen owes his fortune to one of the most recognizable toy companies in the world – LEGO. Born on December 27, 1947 in Billund, Denmark, Kjeld inherited the company from his father Ole Kristiansen, who became President of the board of directors in 1958 after his own father and LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen passed away.
In 1979, Kjeld Kristiansen became president and CEO of the Lego Group, and he brought with him a few changes that were meant to expand the company and diversify its product line. Following this elaborate business principle, LEGO released its Lego Airport and Lego Castle lines as well as the renowned Star Wars collection in 1999. Unfortunately, by 2002, LEGO was losing money due to a lack of focus and an exaggerate product diversity. Competing companies such as Mega Bloks and Hasbro were also causing LEGO to lose market share, and so Kjeld needed to come up with a dramatic business plan that would put his family firm back on track. Because of the excessive measures that had to be implemented, as much as 1,000 people lost their jobs, while many other businesses associated with LEGO were dismantled. The plan worked and LEGO soon regained its place among the most prestigious toy companies in the world, which is why Kjeld was welcomed into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2008.
Since he still owns 75% of Lego to this day, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is currently the wealthiest man in Denmark, boasting earnings of approximately $300 million per year aside from his base salary.